October 12

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Back and in the thick of it

We were warned that during our assignment it would at times feel like a rollercoaster; where low moments would be matched with highs. As I have previously shared I was disappointed when I was unable to join my team’s 2 week trip to the field in July. Then coming back from my week home in September the readjustment came as a bit of a shock. So when day 1 in the office I heard of the team planning an agenda for a senior CHAI visitor to travel to the 3 states the following weekend, to see the progress of the program, and saw the jam packed 4 day agenda, I knew it would be too good an opportunity to miss. So with CHAI & GSK approval I was allowed to travel. What a great experience to pull me out of my daze of being back and remind me of why I am here.

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Crowds that came out during our visit.

A few highlights:

  • A state ministry official describing the Non-pneumatic Anti-Shock Garments (NASGs)* provided by CHAI as the “Magic Garment” *(a low-tech simple, neoprene and Velcro first-aid device used when women have postpartum haemorrhage to flush the blood from lower limbs to the vital organs)
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TBAs showing their NASG

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Unfolded NASG

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  • Seeing TBAs proudly holding their backpacks and actively start bringing out their NASGs/neonatal resuscitation kits and showing us how they use them
  • Arriving in a community to hear that the motorbike ambulance was currently taking a woman in labour to a facility. We did have to stop the village head calling the driver to tell him to come back immediately as we had arrived – let him at least drop the woman off first!

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  • Meeting a TBA who was so heavily involved in her local healthcare centre that she was on the rota and delivered almost all the babies in the previous month. Even through the translator her passion shone through.
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Primary Healthcare facility

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Maternity Ward in Primary healthcare facility – i.e. a delivering woman’s first port of call.

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Driving deep into the bush to visit the communities

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In a village meeting the TBAs. District Head in centre & Village Head in yellow in front.

  • Visiting a specialised maternity ward – there was a lot to take in: the baby who had just been born and they were administering chlorhexidine gel to the umbilical stump and as we peered around the curtain the mother gave us a little wave, the woman in labour who then delivered twins – the first was not breathing so they resuscitated him in front of us, and the mother who had delivered at home but brought her baby in as it had sepsis – when asked why she hadn’t come to the facility to deliver she said she was too busy cooking!
  • The maternity ward had 8 women, at least 6 were in labour and it was silent as the belief in the north is that you are weak if you make noise. In fact there was a lady who came in and was sat next to me and the only way you knew she was having a contraction was she would screw her eyes tightly shut and after 30seconds or so return to normal!

A great few days meeting the CHAI state teams, state ministry of health officials, communities and facilities with many memories made. Now the pressure is on to get my objectives finalised in 9 weeks!